Tips For A Healthy July 4th Celebration

June 30, 2011
By:  Maria
Ah…July 4th is just around the corner.  Family, friends, bbq, fireworks and….what?!…too much junk food on the menu?!
Just because chips, soda, low quality meat and buns, and sugar-laden desserts are a traditional feast at July 4th picnics and gatherings, doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t buck that unhealthy tradition and start a healthy tradition of your own.  We can still enjoy the celebration without sacrificing our health and hard work we put in at the gym.  
Here are some easy tips to help you keep your nutrition/health goals and still enjoy the celebration:
1.       Prepare a healthy dish to take with you to your bbq/picnic
This is where you could save yourself some serious unwanted calories.  If you arrive to a bbq and there is nothing but mystery meat hot dogs, bags of oily chips, gobs of sugary desserts; you will at least have a healthy dish you can load up on your plate.  An easy dish to make would be a green salad with some added protein (dump a bunch of rotisserie chicken meat into any green salad – easy!).  If you’re hosting a bbq, make a commitment to find healthy versions of the foods you are preparing (the internet is loaded with awesome recipes!).
2.        Fill your plate with the healthiest foods first
Salads are a great place to start!  I’m speaking of the greens-variety of salad, not the high-calorie potato or whip-cream-filled jello salads (which should be avoided like crazy!).  If you choose salads with good oils and some protein, you will feel satiated and less likely to indulge in the other high-calorie low-nutrient foods.  Fresh fruit and raw veggies are also a great accompaniment.
3.       Pass on the chips, crackers and bread
These are at just about EVERY bbq and picnic during July 4th – unfortunately – but you would be wise to skip these entirely.  Refined carbs have no real nutrients but plenty of unnecessary calories and a huge insulin load that contributes to our nation’s obesity rates and metabolic disorders.
Hamburger patties are more flavorful without a bun because it is not hidden under a mouthful of refined flour.  If you layer it in between lettuce, tomatoes and avocados, you will be giving your body an incredible boost of nutrients without the health issues associated with the refined carbs.
4.        Be smart about dessert
Choose wisely and think small.  If you choose a slice of cake or cookies, remember that sugar and refined carbs are empty calories that have negative consequences to our health – ask yourself if that dessert is really worth it.  If fresh, seasonal fruit is not something you want for dessert (really??), make sure you cut yourself a small portion of that cake and keep track of the cookie count – mindless snacking on dessert adds up alarmingly fast. 
Here’s another idea:  remember the suggestion to take a healthy side dish?  Why not take a dessert as well!
5.        Drink to your health
Have a water bottle with you wherever you go and you will likely hydrate your muscle tissues properly without adding needless calories that come from sipping on the abundance of soda at bbq’s and picnics.
Alcoholic beverages can be a part of a healthy lifestyle if handled responsibly.  If you are smart about your choices, you can save yourself an entire days’ worth of calories (not to mention constraint!).
6.        Don’t forget fun!
Rather than sitting for the entire day’s celebration, bring along a Frisbee or a football/volleyball and gather your friends for a friendly game of ultimate Frisbee, tag football or simply volley the ball back and forth.  Kids aren’t the only ones who should be having fun.  Get up and move!

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